FORT MYERS, Fla. — Has the time come to worry about whether David Ortiz will be available for Opening Day?
Not yet, manager John Farrell said Sunday. The Red Sox still believe their designated hitter will be ready. But the Sox have played 10 games in spring training and Ortiz has yet to get on the field.
He was scheduled to go through a base-running drill Sunday, but did not because of discomfort in his right Achilles’ tendon. The tentative plan is to try again Monday.
“They made a decision at the time he was going to run that he felt just a little bit of soreness and they backed off it,” Farrell said.
The Red Sox, Farrell said, ideally would want Ortiz to run the bases two days in a row before he gets into a game.
“These next three days, I think, are going to tell a lot where David’s at in his ability to remain loose inside of a given day,” the manager said.
“I think that’s the one question he has yet to answer to himself, is that when he gets hot [and] loosens up, the time between that point in the day and his first at-bat and every at-bat after that. That will happen in time.”
Ortiz said he felt good running the bases Saturday and felt sore later in the day. The issue, he said, is not his Achilles’ but some calcification that has occurred.
“The doctors are being smart about the things that we are doing,” Ortiz said. “I told them that when I get in, I want to be in. I don’t want to go in for a week and come back out and not be playing and this and that. I want to be good to go.”
Ortiz said that doctors have told him to expect soreness as he increases his work on the field.
He said Red Sox staffers, particularly therapist Dan Dyrek, have his confidence.
“We’re doing the right things,” he said. “I’m going to get there.”
Starting Monday, the Red Sox have 25 days of games remaining. To be ready for the season, Ortiz likely would need at least 25-35 plate appearances. Given that he would not play every day, Ortiz would need to start playing sometime soon.
“There’s no inflammation, so to speak,” Farrell said. “He’s getting regular treatment and regular care with that. The plan called for him to run the bases but just the way he felt, we just felt it was better served to back off it for a day.”
Ryan Dempster faced nine batters in his three innings of work against the Yankees and threw 25 of his 28 pitches for strikes. He struck out two.
“His command was outstanding, very good location throughout. Threw three pitches for strikes once again. Extremely efficient,” Farrell said.
Brett Gardner reached on an infield hit to start the game. Eduardo Nunez then grounded into a double play and Dempster was perfect from there.
“I pounded the right part of the strike zone, got ahead of most of the hitters, and tried to execute pitches,” he said.
The Red Sox are coming off a last-place finish and the Yankees are aging and injured. The American League East is not what it was as Baltimore, Tampa Bay, and Toronto rise.
But Farrell believes that Red Sox-Yankees games are still something unique.
“Our division is very even when you look at it on paper and should be a strongly contested division race start to finish,” he said. “But I don’t think you’re ever going to take away the rivalry between two cities, two storied franchises. I think that will always be part of the underlying story to every series that gets played or every game that gets played between the two. I don’t think that’s ever going to go away.”
Said Dempster: “I know that rivalry is different than pretty much any rivalry in baseball and one of the best rivalries in all sports. It makes for a little bit more excitement.”
Bard to the side
Daniel Bard initially was expected to pitch an inning Monday. But he will throw 20 pitches in a simulated game instead. The righthander has been working on the mechanics of his stride and Farrell said they want that work to continue in a “more controlled setting” than a game. Bard has not appeared in a game since Feb. 25 and at this point seems likely to start the season in the minors . . . Lefthander Franklin Morales left the park with a wrap around his lower back. He has been dealing with stiffness and isn’t sure when he will pitch. “I need to get better first,” he said . . . Sox owners John Henry and Tom Werner were on hand for the game, along with team president Larry Lucchino . . . Retired Army General Frederick Franks, one of the renowned tacticians of the Gulf War, threw out the first pitch.Peter Abraham can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @PeteAbe.